The ‘B’ Word
No, not that one...the 4 letter one - BUSY. I cannot tell you how many times a week my response to “How are you doing?” includes the word busy. Honestly, I bet all of my answers either include that word or a synonym for it. Sigh, I’m over it. I want to be better than busy.
As a high achiever and driven individual, I have earned my busy badge several times over. I wear them all with pride, “Hey look at me, I am busy all the time - I must be doing it right.” I delight in my endurance, my ability to just keep going and working and driving. But what is the cost - am I a martyr to the busyness?
Much like distraction, there are underlying reasons to why I strive to stay busy:
If I am not busy I am not getting enough done and therefore I am not worthy. I overextend myself to prove my worth and earn love, admiration, success. This is a vicious lie that actually keeps me small. Because I am always doing a million things, I don’t fully focus on any one thing - which means I could probably be doing a lot better if I were to give my full attention to fewer tasks and had some stillness to just be.
Purpose & Identity
I identify as a doer and my purpose is whatever I am devoting my time to. I am always doing something (in addition to working full time) - and that something often totally takes over my life. Academia, roller derby, crossfit, yoga, web design, and on and on - at some point in my adult life each of these activities defined me and consumed all of my time. If I stop the doing what is my purpose? I’m afraid I don’t know - which ties back into the self-worth theme. This doesn’t mean I don’t love my work. I absolutely do, but I am 95% sure that corporate retail isn’t my life’s purpose.
No one else can do it as well as I can. Who else is guilty of this one? This belief is deep seeded in me and I am not exactly sure where it came from because I started to display it when I was 2 years old. My parents love to tell the story about my catch phrase being “I can do it myself.” Sure, it’s cute when a two year old says it, but it’s not so cute when you are 34 and exhausted because you are still proving to the world that you can do it yourself.
Ego drives my busyness because I want others to see me as capable, strong, resilient, powerful, dependable, successful, etc. There is this sense of honor in being a workaholic, and if I let anyone else do the things I should be doing then that would somehow make me less than. Lies - that is a made up story.
If I am always busy I don’t have to just be still. If you’ve ever tried to meditate you likely understand how challenging that can be. But even beyond that, it totally numbs me to my experience and autopilot kicks in. Whoa, did we just come full circle to a rut?! I think we did. Busyness is both a distraction and a rut!
Breaking out of the busy rut...
I want my identity, purpose, and self-worth to be less ego driven and more than just always doing. I want to know my true authentic self, but I am afraid to slow down long enough to seek her out. A million what-ifs race through my mind. What if I don’t like what I find? What if I have wasted the last 12 years of my life moving in the wrong direction? What if people don’t accept me? What if...ad nauseam.
I wrote this word down in my planner last Sunday as a daily goal - “unplug” (and I’ve done it exactly 0 times since then, but that’s beside the point). To break the busy rut I know that I need to unplug and be still. This means taking time every single day to do NOTHING. I very purposefully did not write meditate, read, or anything else prescriptive because I wanted it to be open to my own interpretation for what I need in the moment. Unplugging does mean turning off the phone, TV, computer and music for a bit everyday- and then I guess I will just listen and see what comes up. Maybe it starts at 10 minutes and grows or maybe some days it's only 5 minutes - as long as there is some time spent unplugged, getting hung up on length is unnecessary.